‘After a review of its operations in the market, Citibank saw insufficient opportunities to capture a significant market position in this area,’ says a Citibank official. ‘We remain committed to the NRI [non-resident Indian] business in Oman and we’ll service it out of our office in Dubai.’

Citibank sources maintain that the bank remains committed to the region. However, the portfolio sale in Oman follows close on the heels of the non-renewal of the management services contract with its affiliate Saudi American Bank (Samba) in October(MEED 19:9:03). This decision, and the sell down of its equity holding in Samba in 2002, has provoked intense market speculation that a further sell down could follow.

But Citibank has maintained an active interest in regional investment banking: it holds a number of live advisory mandates – one is for Oman’s Qalhat LNG– and continues to bid for fresh work.